Imp-Moreh road snap likely as cable trench left unattended

IMPHAL, 12th June: Delay in the execution of road development work even after five years of sanctioning requisite fund and the failure of the state PWD to cover up the cable trench dug up by a mobile company has left the Imphal-Moreh road, which is an important part of Trans Asian Highway, vulnerable to major landslides that could cut off the highway any time.
The highway was renovated by the state government in 2013-14, which gave a better travelling experience to commuters. However in 2014, Bharti Airtel Limited dug up a 1.5 metre deep trench for over 88.545 km on the outer side of the hillside road for laying cable. After completing the cable laying work, the telecommunication company deposited Rs 5.77 crore to the state PWD for mending the trench, which include laying a 0.30 metre thick gravel layer on top of the earth cover.
The amount was deposited in the form of cheque on November 25, 2014. However, the state PWD did not take up the mending work till date, which resulted in several landslides along the highway. At present, around half of the road has been washed away in a place some 3 km from Lokchao, thereby affecting traffic movement along the highway. With the incessant rainfall experiencing in the state, any part of the highway could be washed away in the event of a major landslide.
Meanwhile, experts pointed out that water absorption at the lower level of the cable trench could be the reason for the major landslide that occurred near Tengnoupal in July 2015. Regional officer of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways based in Guwahati visited the landslide site and assessed the situation. However, state government reported the landslide as flood damage and submitted a proposal to the Centre to repair the highway. Apart from a minor fund to repair the landslide hit area under flood damage repairing fund, the Centre rejected the proposal for repairing the highway.
A highly placed source said that the amount deposited by Bharti Airtel Limited is lying unutilised in the state account till date.
It is questionable why the state government did not take up the mending work even after the telecommunication company deposited the required amount in full. Many people are also raising the question if the state government is still waiting for central assistance to mend the cable trench instead of utilising the fund deposited by Bharti Airtel Limited for the same.
Interestingly, Union MoS for road transport and highways P Radhakrishnan, during his visit to Imphal in August last year, sanctioned Rs 1630 crore for developing a 65 km long four-lane highway along the Imphal-Moreh road. During a review meeting attended by officials of state PWD and NHPDCL, the union minister informed that the highway development work is to be executed under National Highway Development Project and Special Accelerated Road Development Programme in Northeast Region.

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